Social Networks

Shaming and bullying existed long before the Internet age. But social networks have the power to magnify the negative impact of those activities, sometimes wrecking the lives of innocent people in the process. In this fascinating TED talk, Jon Ronson graphically illustrates this phenomenon with a true story and talks about what we need to do to minimize the consequences of Internet shaming.

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Facebook made lots of headlines a few months ago when people discovered that their news feeds had been manipulated for research purposes. Many people were shocked that they’d been unwitting participants in massive social science studies. But similar research at Facebook has also been used to help the company to determine how to best help customers deal with unwanted posts. This Radiolab program explores the light and dark sides of Facebook’s gigantic social engineering projects.

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How Are Computers Changing Us?

February 17, 2015

This is a big question with a multitude of answers. NPR’s new program/podcast Invisibilia answers with three stories. The first one looks at the big picture with questions about artificial intelligence, wearable computers, and the possibilities for human/computer co-evolution. The other two stories look at specific, personal, right-now examples of human character changes as a result of digital technology.

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Collaboration on Collaboration

July 22, 2013

The Internet makes it possible for people to collaborate on a massive scale, working together to accomplish tasks that might otherwise be impossible. The world of online collaboration is changing rapidly—and changing our lives in the process. Many TED talks and NPR podcasts have helped us to understand the applications and implications of collaborative technology. In this fascinating radio program, TED and NPR collaborate to explore collaboration by combining excerpts from several TED talks with interviews and commentary.

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A Human Statue Talks about Crowdfunding

March 20, 2013
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Crowdfunding—funding a project by asking many people for small contributions—has exploded in popularity because of Internet tools and social networks. Crowdfunding is being used to fund high-tech ventures, microbusinesses, charities, and artistic expressions. In this entertaining, moving TED talk, musician Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls talks about a dimension of crowdfunding that’s rarely discussed: the emotional connections that happen when we ask friends, fans, or strangers for what we need. She argues that Internet tools aren’t as important as our attitude about asking.

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If All Your Friends Were Voting, Would You?

September 14, 2012
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In the U.S., non-voters outnumber Democratic voters and Republican voters combined. What does it take to get those non-voters to realize that democracy is not a spectator sport? A recent study suggests that many of them respond to peer pressure, Facebook-style.

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Sharing is Caring—or Is It?

August 29, 2012
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The concept of sharing is everywhere on the Internet. In this thought-provoking Huffington Post blog post, Bianca Bosker asks whether Facebook and other companies are using the term to manipulate our feelings and extract information from us.

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What Good is Facebook?

August 20, 2012 screen

If you’ve ever asked—or been asked—that question, you might be interested in, a web site designed to provide answers through stories about how Facebook changes lives. This CNet story provides an overview and a link to the site.

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Your Brain on the Net

July 13, 2012
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Most of us inhabit two worlds: the analog world where our physical bodies live and the digital world where our minds spend hours every day. As our digital reality demands more and more of our time and attention, how do our brains change? This sobering Newsweek article summarizes the latest research about the impact of the Internet on the human brain. After you read it, you may want to switch off your smart phone and go for a walk with a friend in the woods….

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A New Age of Collective Intelligence

July 1, 2012
Don Tapscott TED talk

It’s easy to get lost in the details of our increasingly netcentric lives and forget about the big picture. In this inspiring TED talk, Don Tapscott explains with concrete examples and beautiful analogies how the Internet is helping create a new age of openness and collective intelligence.

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